As if the Arena Pro Swim Series in Minneapolis didn’t bring us enough thrills just in the racing alone, we can now collect our thoughts and take stock of the multiple Olympic “A” cuts earned by several non-U.S. athletes over the course of the three-day meet.
The University of Louisville/Cardinal Aquatics’ teams celebrated two notable “A” cut qualifiers in the form of Finland’s Tanja Kylliainen and Venezuela’s Carlos Claverie. According to their countries’ Rio-qualifying process, each have punched their ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games. Each had multiple “B” Olympic qualifying times coming into Minneapolis, but the determined athletes raced their way to the next level in their respective events.
For her part, Kylliainen, a 2015 Louisville graduate, claimed a remarkable 200m IM mark of 2:14.20 to narrowly, yet definitively clear the “A” time of 2:14.26. Prior to the meet, Kylliainen had achieved the B standard in a time of 2:14.98 from the Arena Pro Swim in Charlotte last May, so she had been on the cusp for a while. Gratifying to have achieved the mark to be sure, as expressed in her Cardinals’ social media account.
Tanja Kylliainen puts up a 2:14.20 in the 200-IM for the win and qualifies for the 2016 Rio Olympics! #MightyMousePunchesHerTicket #SoProud — UofL Swim&Dive (@UofLswim_dive) November 14, 2015
In her own words, Kylliainen tells SwimSwam, “I was finally able to put together the race I’ve been looking for. Hard work and perseverance do pay off.” Kylliainen added that, “Having my team there to ‘inform’ me of how it went was one of the most emotional moments I have experienced. Support, gratitude, achievement and humility are just some words that come to mind when I think about that moment.”
The former collegiate athlete also wanted to say, “Thanks to everyone who has helped my dream come true. Now it’s time to push even harder and get better through next summer.”
The other Cardinals athlete who snagged an “A” cut, that we suspect will be good enough for Olympic qualification, was current sophomore Cardinals swimmer, Carlos Claverie, from Venezuela. His best 200m breaststroke time headed into the meet was the 2:12.97 he registered, which earned him a 6th place finish at this summer’s Pan American Games. Subtract almost two seconds and you come up with Claverie’s impressive winning time in Minneapolis of 2:10.86, a mark which comfortably clears the FINA “A” standard of 2:11.66. The Louisville rejoiced once again and congratulated their teammate via social media:
So this happened this morning! Carlos Claverie is going to Rio 2016!! pic.twitter.com/zlX4jduePO
— UofL Swim&Dive (@UofLswim_dive) November 14, 2015
The Bahamas’ Elvis Burrows clinched a “B” cut with his swim of 22.76, undercutting the standard of 23.05 and, quite possibly securing his spot on his nation’s Rio roster. When asked of the mark being swift enough to indeed qualify, Burrows told SwimSwam, “Looking at what was slected in 2012, I’m on the fence. I’d be safer at a 22.5, which I can feel I can go. But at this point, 22.3 is looking very possible.”
Burrows is now eligible for the Olympics though, unlike the World Championships, not every swimmer with a “B” time is necessarily eligible under FINA qualifying rules. An improvement of a few more tenths would help him sure-up his ranking for a Rio selection.
For perspective, the world’s top 15 “B” cuts indeed were selected for the 2012 London Olympic Games.